It's no real secret that the majority of DSiWare releases to date can be described as uninspiring at best. DSi owners have had to sit and watch as one mediocre DSiWare title after another has been released on the service with nothing truly unique or original in sight - at least until now. Wayforward is looking to tear up the rulebook with its first DSiWare release Mighty Flip Champs by offering up a game that features a unique blend of platforming and puzzle-solving elements to form what is easily one of the most addictive gaming experiences available on the system. But does this DSiWare release ultimately live up to the immense amount of hype that's surrounded the game and is it worth your hard-earned 800 Nintendo Points?
The basic game play premise in Mighty Flip Champs is quite simple. Your goal in each level is to rescue each of your friends and then reach Fishman, who'll then transport you to the next level. To do this you'll have to guide your character Alta around each level, avoiding the many hazards along the way. This will require you to flip screens in order to reach certain areas in each level. Levels can feature anywhere from two to six different screens to flip through. The screen your currently maneuvering through is located on the top display of the DSi system and the screen that you can flip to is located on the touch display below. You can even use the stylus to place a "Mark of Champions" box that will show up on both the top and bottom screens. This can be a useful tool for marking where you need to be in certain tricky situations in order to progress in each level.
You can move Alta around in all four directions and you can flip screens at will by using any one of the action buttons. Occasionally you'll even have to flip certain switches or climb certain wire fences in order to gain access to certain parts of each level. You can even flip screens while Alta is falling, thus saving her at the last minute from a pit of spikes and landing safely on a ledge or fence. It's this careful timing of your flips that can mean the difference between reaching that hard-to-reach area or falling to a certain death. So while there might not be a ledge in front of you on the current screen, you might find one on the next screen below, but you will have to always make sure that the screen you're flipping to won't cause Alta to land inside of a wall or she'll lose a life and have to start the level all over again. Luckily the controls in the game are extremely responsive and very intuitive, which allows you to pick up game play techniques quickly and easily. And considering how incredibly tricky many of the later levels are, you'll be thankful that you won't have to spend all of your time trying to figure out a set of complicated moves.
Each area is broken down into eight levels. The final level of each area is a special stage where the game will flip screens automatically. You'll get a tiny warning before each flip as a clock icon will pop up in the middle of the screen letting you know the game is about to switch the displays. You'd better be in position and ready because you don't have much time in between flips to maneuver; as you might imagine, charthis can make for one challenging and nerve-wracking level. The good news is that these challenge levels are extremely well designed and offer just the right change of pace after you've played a good number of the regular levels in each area.
It's the extreme simplicity of the play control that ultimately makes Mighty Flip Champs so addictive and enjoyable. Some of the levels are downright devious in design and will force you to play them many times before you'll finally discover the solution. You're also awarded a grade for each level based on how fast your completion time was and how many flips it took you to complete; this offers plenty of incentive to go back and replay the 40+ levels in order to achieve a better grade. This feature adds a ton of replay value to an already rock-solid gaming experience.
Mighty Flip Champs might not be the most graphically impressive DS title out there but it scores big points in the charm and personality category. Not only does each area offer up its own unique theme and visual style, but there's plenty of color variety in each area and it makes keeping track of flips easy with the way each screen generally features it own unique color scheme to differentiate it from the others. Even the characters themselves are very well drawn and show a lot of imagination in their outlandish designs. It's clear that the developers at Wayforward put a lot of time and thought into the visual aspect of the game and it really pays off in the finished product. It's easily one of the most polished DSiWare titles to date and a testament to the incredible attention to detail afforded by the developer.
The musical score in Mighty Flip Champs is varied, but catchy. Each area in the game has its own musical track. So while you will get to hear basically the same tune during each of the 8 levels in each area, they're lengthy and catchy enough that you certainly won't mind. Luckily, just about the time you are beginning to get tired of the current track, you move on to a new area and get a brand new one to listen to. You'll also be treated to a short tune announcing each new level, not to mention the musical piece that plays each time your character dies (a tune you're going to become quite familiar with during the game's later levels). The sound effects are also very well done and offer up a lot of variety to the overall audio experience. As unique and charming as the artwork in the game is, it's nice to see the same attention being put into the musical presentation.
Creating a great game idea is impressive in and of itself, but you have to appreciate it when a developer goes the extra mile and surrounds that great game play idea with high quality artwork and music to give the overall experience that little something extra. Wayforward has once again created a unique gaming experience that not only shows off the strengths of the system it's created for, but also provides one of the most addictive gaming experiences you're ever likely to encounter. Not only will you have a blast playing through the tricky levels the first time through the game, but it's equally as much fun to go back and try to achieve "S" rank on all of the levels as well. In the end, Mighty Flip Champs represents exactly the kind of high quality gaming experience DSi owners have been wishing for from the service and should prove to be a tough act to follow for any future DSiWare releases.